Technology has helped older people be better connected during the coronavirus outbreak. Social media and video calling can help bring people together to feel less lonely and isolated. Unfortunately, our increased use of tech has also provided opportunities for criminals to capitalise on any worry and confusion that many people have likely felt over the last few months. Cybercrimes and scams can have a devastating impact that leaves victims in desperate financial situations.
Cybercrime can take many forms, from phishing and investment fraud, to ID theft and blackmail. To date, more than £5m has been lost to coronavirus-related scams and £16m has been lost to online shopping fraud since lockdown began. The majority of fraud linked to coronavirus involves online purchases for personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks, that never arrive. Criminals have also been sending phishing emails and texts claiming to be from the Government, HMRC and health bodies to convince the recipient to open links or attachments and get them to reveal personal or financial information.
The effects on victims can be profound. While the most immediate impact is financial, being a victim of a scam can have a serious impact on an individual's health, wellbeing and relationships.
It's therefore vital that we have the knowledge and tools to protect ourselves online to minimise the risk of falling victim to cybercrime.
How often is cybercrime reported across the UK?
To uncover the extent of cybercrime across the UK, Age UK completed detailed research focusing on individuals aged 55 and over living in England and Wales during the period of 2018-19.
The data collected enabled the creation of the graphics on this page, which outline how many cases of cybercrime were reported in each police force region during this period, as well as the reported financial losses. It is worth noting, however, that only a fraction of cybercrime is reported to authorities, so the true figures are likely to be much higher.
This first data visualisation map looks at the number and percentage of people who reported cybercrime during 2018-19. To view the figures in more detail, hover over each police force region to display the data.
From the data, you can clearly see that the Metropolitan Police region of Greater London had the highest number of cybercrime reports. During 2018-19, 3,821 reports were made, with 12 percent of this figure being those aged 55 and over.
How much money is lost to cybercrime across the UK?
The next map explores the topic in further detail and focuses on the amount lost by individuals aged 55 and over who have fallen victim to cybercrime. To view the figures in more detail, hover over each police force region to display the data.
It may come as no surprise that it’s residents in the Metropolitan area of Greater London who felt the financial effects of cybercrime the most. According to this research, those aged 55 and above lost more than £720,000 as a result of cybercrime during the period, but it wasn’t the only region with a high financial loss.
The county of Dorset was also at the top end of the scale, almost £278,000 was taken from individuals aged 55 and over across the region.
All of the data featured within the maps can also be viewed in a table
How Age UK fights cybercrime
Age UK is helping to combat cybercrime and support victims. We do this by providing comprehensive information and advice to assist those affected, helping to improve digital confidence in older people, and working with banks and law enforcement to identify avenues for scams.